Monique Haas

Monique Haas Plays Maurice Ravel, Claude Debussy, Béla Bartok, Albert Roussel

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Despite her long career, pianist Monique Haas made relatively few recordings, so the historic offerings on this 2004 release from Profil Edition may be considered rarities. Haas preferred to play the music of her near contemporaries, rather than works of the established Classical and Romantic masters, and her taste is reflected in the selection of pieces by Ravel, Debussy, Bartók, and Roussel on this disc. Her hard-headed sensibility and thoroughly modern interpretive approach are immediately apparent in her brisk, efficient playing of Ravel's dazzling Piano Concerto in G major, which she performed with Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt and the Sinfonieorchester des NWDR Hamburg in 1948. The recording is astounding, not only for Haas' brilliantly defined lines and sharp articulation, but also for the vivid details Schmidt-Isserstedt brought out of the orchestral accompaniment, which are sometimes lost on many modern digital recordings. The 1949 solo performances of Debussy's Toccata, Bartók's Sonatine, and Roussel's Three Pieces for piano are perhaps a little less amazing, though Haas is crisp and incisive, and her playing is as fresh as if recorded much more recently. The bonus track, the 1930 recording of Ravel's Bolèro with the composer conducting the Orchestre de l'Association des Concerts Lamoreux, is a must for collectors, and is especially surprising for its clear timbres, pungent flavor, and natural depth.

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